How does friendship impact wellbeing?
| By Ruth Mendelson, MSW, LCSW
What is International Friendship Day and why does it matter?
International Friendship Day is a day celebrating the power of friendship. It really is a thing (though maybe not a big thing)! It is celebrated on July 30th, though differing sources share varying days that the official day falls on, some say the first Sunday in August, some say April 9th. There are even people that cite a Friendship Month to be celebrated in February.
Most sources also admit that the day was initially promoted by the greeting card industry and may or may not be rooted in an attempt to sell cards (that may not come as a surprise). But all that being said, what is worth delving into is the following:
Is there a point to this celebratory day of friendship? And if so, what might that point be?
Connection With Others Determines Your Level of Health
Part of the human experience that offers great benefits is the feeling of connectivity. This does not necessarily mean that you must be close to other people, have a lot of friends, be outgoing or extraordinarily social. It means that there is value in some kind of connection. The key to this idea is the concept of “some kind.”
Maybe it is connection through clicking with another person on a surface and basic level, maybe it is a deeper stronger bond that has developed over a long period of time. The point is that it can be many or multiple things. This is because the sense of connection is internal. It can happen from an interaction with a stranger to someone you may have known your whole life. Again, it’s a feeling which means that all different types of people and personalities can feel connected in different ways.
The important piece to this is finding ways to have that connection because of the benefits it can serve. People who feel connected are likely to have better physical and emotional health.
- Longer lives
- Stronger Immune System
- Decreased Anxiety
- Decreased Depression
Check out this article for further information. It is also helpful to understand isolation as a Social Determinant of Health (SDOH) in order to see compelling data explaining the benefits of connection.
Friendship Day May Not Be A Big Deal, But It Is Important to Evaluate Your Relationships and Find Connections
Tying the above concepts back to the seemingly inconsequential celebration of “International Friendship Day” is intentional. While you may or may not connect to the idea of “International Friendship Day,” the opportunity to sit back, reflect, and take stock in your thoughts of connecting to others, friends or not, is a worthwhile activity.
For all of the reasons mentioned above, the exercise of assessing your friendships or connections to others may be meaningful. Try it!
- Take some notes and try to hash it out for yourself
- Write a journal entry on the topic
- Send someone a note or letter
What Does Friendship Mean to You?
So whether you are reading this on July 30th, the first Sunday in August, April 9th, sometime in the month of February or any other day of the year, I challenge you to think about the following:
- What does friendship mean to you?
- At what level do you like to connect to other humans?
- Do the ideas explored above resonate with you?
- Do you have unmet goals around relationships?
If you are struggling to find positive ways to connect with others or maybe it would be helpful to reflect on your connections, please reach out. A licensed therapist or counselor can support you with your concerns.
Ruth enjoys spending time with her family, friends and dog. She loves to cook, spend time outdoors and go to the beach (even when it’s cold outside).
Check out Ruth’s professional bio here!
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